In today’s world, the traditional concept of living and working in close proximity has been dramatically transformed by modern transportation and digital connectivity. Commuting over long distances, or even crossing international borders for work, has become increasingly common. One example is the European Union, where many people live near the border and travel across it for employment. In this article, we will explore the requirements for obtaining a UK Frontier Worker Permit and the documentation needed for the application process.
The end of free movement ushered in a new era of visa routes aimed at helping workers establish themselves in the UK. Among them is the Frontier Worker Permit. Although only open to those who previously commuted to the UK for work before Brexit, the eligibility criteria are generous enough to encompass a wide range of individuals.
What is a Frontier Worker Permit?
European nationals already working in the UK before the end of 2020 are eligible to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit. To be eligible for this permit, applicants must belong to the EU or the EEA, which includes Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein. Additionally, they must currently reside outside of the UK and have begun working in the UK by December 31, 2020. If an individual did not begin working in the UK by this date, they must apply for a visa instead of a Frontier Worker Permit. It is worth noting that Irish nationals are exempt from the requirement to obtain a Frontier Worker Permit.
Frontier Worker Permit requirements
To be eligible for a Frontier Worker Permit, applicants must have begun working in the UK while living in another country before January 1, 2021, either as an employee or in a self-employed capacity. The work must be genuine and effective, meaning more than one-off tasks like interviews or contract signings. Additionally, the applicant must have worked in the UK as an employee or in a self-employed role at least once every 12 months.
If an applicant has not been able to work or has been unemployed in the UK during any 12-month period, obtaining a Frontier Worker Permit may still be possible. The applicant must provide evidence that they were unable to work due to illness, accident, pregnancy, or COVID-19. Alternatively, if they were voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed but undertaking vocational training or looking for work in the UK, they may also qualify. These individuals will be classified as “retained workers” or “retained self-employed persons,” according to the Frontier Worker guidance.
To qualify for a Frontier Worker Permit, applicants must primarily live outside the UK and have spent less than 180 days in the UK within a 12-month period since January 1, 2020. Those who have spent 180 days or more may still be eligible if they returned to their country of residence at least once every 6 months or twice in a 12-month period. Exceptions can be made for those who could not travel due to circumstances such as COVID-19, illness, or accidents.
What you can and cannot do
A Frontier Worker Permit allows you to travel freely in and out of the UK for work, access public benefits and services, and prove your right to work or rent in the UK. You can also access NHS healthcare. However, it does not grant you the right to settle permanently in the UK, and you cannot bring family members with you. To gain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which allows for permanent settlement, you will need to hold a qualifying visa for a certain number of years, usually 5 years.
Frontier Worker Permits are granted for 5 years if you are classified as a frontier worker. The permit is granted for 2 years if you are a retained worker. It is possible to extend the permit if you continue to meet the eligibility criteria and have met them since your last application. If you have lost your job or are no longer self-employed, you may still be eligible for renewal of the permit if you have retained status.
How can Whytecroft Ford help?
We specialize in helping individuals and businesses navigate the complex UK immigration system. Our experienced team can assist you with all aspects of the Frontier Worker Permit application process, from determining your eligibility to submitting a successful application. To discuss your Frontier Worker Permit, call our team on +442087575751 or use our contact form.
Frequently asked questions
No, you must have started working in the UK while living in another country before 1st January 2021 in order to be eligible for a Frontier Worker Permit.
Applying for a Frontier Worker Permit is free of charge, and there is no requirement to pay the immigration health surcharge to access the UK’s National Health Service.